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Deeper Commentary


Song of Solomon 3:1 By night on my bed, I sought him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but I didn’t find him-
Seeking but not finding is the language of condemnation. All the time we get hints in the language used that this Gentile woman is not of God at all, and is the pathway to condemnation. Just as Solomon had warned in Prov. 7. Having slept with him the night before (Song 2;16,17), she now has a nightmare about him having left her. And indeed this is absolutely psychologically likely. Her dream or nightmare reflected her deepest fears.

Song of Solomon 3:2 I will get up now, and go about the city; in the streets and in the squares I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but I didn’t find him-
Her dream reflects the way she walked the streets of Jerusalem whilst he was confined in the palace. Her mother moved to Jerusalem from Egypt, but it wasn’t possible for Solomon and her to easily be together in that house (Song 3:4; 8:2). Again [as noted on Song 2:14,15] we have an allusion to spiritual things, but out of context. Jeremiah on God's behalf ran through the streets and squares of Jerusalem to search for men who would love God in truth (Jer. 5:1). But she runs through the same streets and squares looking to turn a man away from God.

Song of Solomon 3:3 The watchmen who go about the city found me; I asked, Have you seen him whom my soul loves?-
Constantly she fears the opposition of the people of Jerusalem. Later in this chapter she has another nightmare of Solomon's kingly bed prepared not for her but for the daughters of Jerusalem, and protected by Israelite soldiers. The implication would be that Solomon's marriages to Gentile women were not popular with Israel, and this contributed to the resentment against Solomon at the end of his life (1 Kings 12:11). We note that although she comes over as forward and manipulative, she seems to love Solomon from her "soul" (also in :4), although that love was based upon being in love with an image of a man rather than reality, and was totally based upon externalities. 

Song of Solomon 3:4 I had scarcely passed from them, when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, into the room of her who conceived me-
There is some historical evidence that in Egypt, discussions about marriage were held in the mother's house. Her deepest psychological positions, as reflected in this dream, were that she would get Solomon away from his mother, who had warned him against women like her in Prov. 31, and into the house of her and not his mother. She says she will not let him go. Perhaps despite the break up of the relationship at the end of the book, they did in fact marry, and Solomon laments that her hands were as bands (Ecc. 7:26) and his relationship with her was a being caught in a net.

She was the fulfilment of what Solomon had written at the same time in Prov. 7:27: " Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the rooms of death". Solomon's wisdom was given to him as a young man, and the book of Proverbs appears to be collections of the various statements of that wisdom. But about the same time, he also got involved with multiple Gentile women who led him astray from God and to idolatry. The very warnings he gives against the adulteress and Gentile woman were ignored by him; he became the young man who went wrong with women. His girlfriend speaks in the very language of the Gentile woman of Proverbs: "I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house... into her chamber" (Song 3:4 AV). Compare this with "She caught him... come not near the door of her house... her house... the chambers of death" (Prov. 7:13,27; 5:8). We see here the warning for all time; that we can know God's ways in theory, whilst disobeying them in practice, absolutely to the letter. Indeed it may be so that the more we know them, the more strongly we are tempted by our nature to break them.

Yet  Solomon  was  aware, at least theoretically, of the foolish path  he was going down. God had inspired him with the wisdom of Prov. 2:16,17, which warned that wisdom would save a man from the Gentile  woman who made a covenant with the God of Israel in her youth (in order to marry an Israelite, by implication), but soon forgot it. This was exactly the case of Solomon; yet he just  couldn't  see  the personal relevance of his own wisdom to himself. Solomon could write of the folly of the ruler who oppressed the poor (Prov. 22:16)- and yet do just that very thing. The Proverbs so frequently refer to the dangers of the house of the Gentile woman; yet the Song shows the Egyptian girl dearly wishing that Solomon would come with her into her house. And  Solomon,  just  like  the foolish young man he wrote about, went right ahead down the road to spiritual disaster he so often warned others about. He warns the young man of the dangers of the Egyptian woman who perfumes her bed with myrrh (Prov. 7:16,17)- and then falls for just such a woman (Ps. 45:8). This woman he warns of appears to want to serve Yahweh, and presents herself in the very language of the tabernacle (Prov. 7:14,16,17). And yet Solomon goes and falls for just such a woman. One can only conclude that the more true spiritual knowledge we have, the more prone we are to do the very opposite.

Song of Solomon 3:5 I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and the hinds of the field, that you not stir up, nor stimulate love, until he so desires-
An oath was typically taken in the name of God in Israel (Dt. 6:13; Josh. 9:18; 2 Chron. 15:14). But again, this woman is portrayed as lacking any spirituality or relationship with God. She seems terrified that the daughters of Jerusalem would sexually attract Solomon, and this fear leads to her further nightmare which follows.

Song of Solomon 3:6 Who is this who comes up from the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all spices of the merchant?-
Again the imagery of pillars of smoke coming from the desert towards Jerusalem (:1) is the prophetic image for judgment coming. There is always the hint that this relationship leads to condemnation. The spices brought by merchants connect with the merchant trading of Solomon which resulted in these things being brought to him. Clearly this is Solomon in all his God given glory.

Song of Solomon 3:7 Behold, it is Solomon’s carriage! Sixty mighty men are around it, of the mighty men of Israel-
"Carriage" is also "bed". She has been having a secret open air tryst with Solomon on a bed made from leaves under a bower of tree branches. And now she sees with some shock (:6,7) a kingly bed coming toward her... but not for her to sleep with him in. It is for the daughters of Jerusalem (:10)! This continues her vision of fear which she has on her bed at night (:1). The relationship is full of such distrust and fear that the daughters of Jerusalem will finally get Solomon, and she will not.

Song of Solomon 3:8 They all handle the sword, and are expert in war. Every man has his sword on his thigh, because of fear in the night-
This nightmare (:1) of Solomon's bed advancing as a carriage [hence the confusion in the translations between "bed" and "carriage"] was guarded by Israel's best soldiers. They feared something might happen at night; and at night she had slept with Solomon and they had parted from each other at dawn (Song 2:17). Her nightmare reflects her deepest fears; that the men of Israel were against her relationship with Solomon, and fiercely guarded his kingly bed for the daughters of Jerusalem, and intended to keep her away from it. These men are another form of the night watchmen patrolling Jerusalem at night, whom she imagines had caught her.

Song of Solomon 3:9 King Solomon made himself a carriage of the wood of Lebanon-
Carriage" can also be "bed" as AV. The Egyptian word here used suggests that Solomon really had a relationship with this woman and spoke to her in terms she understood. This failed, illicit romance really happened. For these are the thoughts of the girl in her nightmare (:1). Solomon "made himself" many things (Ecc. 2:4-8). That he had made his own wedding bed is therefore unsurprising.

Song of Solomon 3:10 He made its pillars of silver, its bottom of gold, its seat of purple, its midst being paved with love-
"He made..." pillars with silver, gold and purple recalls the language of how Solomon made the temple (1 Kings 7:6-8). He admits in Ecc. 2 that he loved making things. His apparent  zeal for building the temple was really just an expression of his own native temperament and character type, rather than particular love for God's work. And we must analyze our own service of God to see if we aren't doing the same thing, just serving Him in ways which are convenient and reinforce our own native personality type. Such service is not the service of sacrifice and carrying a cross which is required.

The  bed is described in the language of the tabernacle; made of wood,  but  covered with gold and surrounded by silver pillars, with  a mercy seat of purple (3:9,10 Heb.). He persuaded himself that  his  marriage to this woman was some kind of expression of spirituality.  The bed was made from cedar brought from Lebanon- and yet the same wood was used for the temple (Song 3:9). Such was his dualism. The Song is shot through with allusion to the Law and  tabernacle  rituals; he speaks of making her borders on her clothes  (Song 1:11), probably alluding to the borders of blue to be worn  by  the  faithful  Israelite.  Solomon  wanted her to be a spiritual  woman,  and  he  was  going  to  make her one; many a preacher,   teacher,  husband,  wife,  father, mother,  child,  boyfriend has had to learn the impossibility of this.  He wanted to see her as a spiritual woman, and eventually he became persuaded that she was just this.

For the daughters of Jerusalem-
I suggested on :7 that this is a nightmare she has on her bed (:1), having slept with Solomon on a bed of leaves in the open air. Now she imagines him having made a luxurious bed... but not for her. For the daughters of Jerusalem, her rivals! There is always the tension with the daughters of Jerusalem, who can be understood as Solomon’s Jewish wives, or those who were his Jewish harem. In Song 2 she wants to bring him into her mother’s bedroom in Egypt, but this is contrasted in the next Song with Solomon’s bed in Jerusalem, prepared for the “daughters of Jerusalem” (3:4,10) whom he should have married. Then, with this bed in the background, he tells her how he especially loves her (Song 4:1), trying to persuade her that her fears have no basis in reality.


Song of Solomon 3:11 Go forth, you daughters of Zion, and see king Solomon, with the crown with which his mother has crowned him in the day of his weddings, in the day of the gladness of his heart-
In Prov. 31 Bathsheba lays the law down with him about his girlfriends, about not marrying Gentiles, and about  not  drinking, yet here we see Bathsheba with all her  motherly pride crowning Solomon on the day of engagement to his wives. Note the plural "weddings". Like David, Bathsheba  taught  Solomon the principles with great enthusiasm, but   she  allowed  parental  pride  to  make  her  dismiss  the possibility  that  her  son  was seriously going astray. But in this nightmare, the Egyptian girl imagines Bathsheba approving Solomon's marriages to the daughters of Zion / Jerusalem

Or perhaps here we have the girl sarcastically commenting to the Jerusalem girls: “Go forth, O you daughters of Jerusalem, and behold king Solomon”, and goes on to mock the crown his mother Bathsheba had made for him, wishing instead that he would be under the influence of her mother (Song 3:11,4). Her sarcasm turns to angry defence at times, e.g. when she warns the Jerusalem girls not to stir up “my love” (Song of Solomon 2:7)- i.e. ‘Hands off my Solomon!’. In turn, they ask her where Solomon has “turned aside” so that they can come and seek him with her (Song of Solomon 6:1), using a word elsewhere associated with ‘turning aside’ in apostasy to other gods. They in their turn sarcastically comment to her: “Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women… that we may seek him with thee?” (Song of Solomon 6:1), quoting Solomon’s terms of endearment back to her.